Alec Ingold’s meeting with the Giants last week was unusual, to be sure, as it included just a bit of good-natured trash talking, which is not the norm when a player hoping to make an impression during interviews with NFL personnel. But that is what went down when the Wisconsin fullback sat down at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., with Craig Johnson, the Giants’ running backs coach.
Johnson spent six years as an assistant coach at Northwestern, and as anyone in the Midwest can attest, Big Ten passion runs deep for those involved.
“It was awesome,” Ingold told The Post. “He’s from Northwestern, so we got a little back and forth about the Big Ten. He got us this year.
“Just to be able to talk ball with him was huge. I love talking to coaches where I can explain my knowledge of the game and really show my passion for being a good fullback. Blocking for Saquon would be a dream come true.”
Ah, yes, blocking for Saquon. Of course that came up in the discussion after Johnson no doubt reminded Ingold of Northwestern’s 31-17 victory over Wisconsin this past season. Blocking for Saquon Barkley is the No. 1 job description for any fullback employed by the Giants. Ingold knows all about blocking for a dynamic running back, as he spent the past two years thrusting his body into the line to move defenders, allowing Jonathan Taylor to become the most prolific runner in NCAA football history.
Taylor, from Salem, N.J., gained 1,977 yards as a freshman and 2,194 as a sophomore, working behind the Badgers’ traditionally rugged offensive line. Taylor’s 4,171 rushing yards his first two seasons is an NCAA record.
“He made a lot of guys miss this year,” Ingold said. “He made me look great, but I hope I did the same for him on some plays, too. Just being able to be accountable for those running backs, keep them off the ground as much as best I can, chasing the ball after them, make sure I’m picking them up as much as I can, that’s what my job is. Making them happy.”
Is Ingold a fit for the Giants? They went with Eli Penny, a second-year player from Idaho, at fullback in 2018. Penny ran for 25 yards on seven rushing attempts and caught eight passes for 50 yards. Penny is 6-foot-1 and 234 pounds. If the Giants want to bring in some competition for Penny and go with a bigger body at the position, Ingold, at 6-2 and a well-proportioned 247 pounds, would be an ideal option. He scored 21 touchdowns (17 rushing, four receiving) during his stay in Madison and worked on virtually every special-teams unit. It is the way of life for fullbacks, and Ingold is readily accepting of all of it.
“The way I play the game, I want to be a good football player, I want to make a team better,” he said. “Regardless of if they need a fullback or not, I hope my game is good enough that they can think about it. Just being able to play a position that can fly around the field at all spots.”
Ingold has been a Badger his whole life, growing up in Green Bay. He is a multiple-time member of the academic All-Big Ten team and has a job waiting for him in Boston, working in a sales-development role for Oracle. He can defer employment and intends to do that by pursuing his football dream.
The NFL draft is usually unkind to fullbacks, and NFL scouts have told Ingold not to value himself based on where he is taken. He could go in the middle or late rounds or not at all. The two fullbacks on the most recent Giants Super Bowl teams — Madison Hedgecock (seventh round) and Henry Hynoski (undrafted) — fought their way onto NFL rosters.
In the Senior Bowl, Ingold had one rushing attempt for 7 yards and caught one pass for 11 yards, helping the North team win 34-24. He played alongside two teammates, offensive linemen Michael Deiter and Beau Benzschawel, and said he feels comfortable hanging with the big guys, even though he intends to make his living in the running backs room.
“Just caring about those guys in the room is huge,” Ingold said. “Everything I hear about Saquon is just amazing. He accepts competition and wants to be the best he can. To be invited into that room would be amazing. I’d want to make him better.”
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